Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

IN ONE respect it is salutary to behold the gardaí and their media Greek chorus join forces to posthumously convict Ian Bailey of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder, something they manifestly could not do when he was alive. But posterior covering in both these camps is now necessary and the latest wishful notion is that circumstantial evidence could be used to publicly state that Bailey could and would have been convicted had he lived longer.

It has been suggested by gardaí, via the media, that the use of circumstantial evidence, similar to that used to convict Patrick Quirke in 2019 of the killing of Bobby ‘Mr Moonlight’ Ryan in Tipperary and Graham Dwyer in 2015 for the murder of Elaine O’Hara, could have been similarly used against Bailey. This would, it is argued, allow the DPP to say that only Bailey’s death has prevented a prosecution, as has happened in some historic abuse cases.

There are two obvious flaws in these fanciful arguments. First, the voluminous evidential detail in both cases of a strong emotional relationship between victim and perpetrator simply does not exist in the case of the French woman’s murder. Second, historic abuse cases are invariably historic because they arise years and even decades after the facts. Ian Bailey, on the other hand, was regarded by gardaí as a suspect within weeks of the murder.

Bailey’s contention recently that the cold case review was simply a repeat of the original investigation, whereby he was the sole suspect, has now been proved correct. And now it is vindication time for gardaí and those media that bought the ‘Bailey as chief suspect’ line and then gleefully used his own words to hang around his neck.

There should be another investigation, certainly, but it should be directed at what the DPP argued in its 44-page report into the abysmal Garda investigation was the effort to make local people “suggestible”.

The DPP report stated: “There has been a constant flow of information to the media in relation to the investigation into the killing… Once Ian Bailey was believed by the public, particularly in the local area, to be responsible for the murder, the fear thereby engendered was bound to create a climate in which witnesses became suggestible.”

This summarises perhaps the best example of the complicity between gardaí and media that operates when the former wants to feed the public its line on any particular issue, be it Garda resources or serious crime.

There were other, more dramatic allegations – some of criminal activity by gardaí – made by former DPP Eamon Barnes’s office into the investigation. Former chief justice and Supreme Court judge John Murray referred to the report’s “dramatic and shocking content” when it became public in 2011 (but was penned 10 years earlier). The report even described how a down-and-out English man was offered drugs, cash and clothes by Garda officers to entrap Bailey into incriminating himself.

An especially scandalous chapter in the Garda investigation was what potential witness Marie Farrell said was the coercion placed on her to say that her sighting of a suspicious gent near the crime scene on the night of the murder was of Bailey. She claims that she initially told gardaí the man was 5 ft 8 in, whereas Bailey was well over six foot. Several statements later and the mysterious gent had become much taller and, after what Farrell said were various threats concerning her personal life, she identified him as Bailey.

Meanwhile, Marie’s husband was in the course of appealing against a summons of no insurance on his vehicle but Ms Farrell said that sympathetic gardaí told him to proceed with his planned appeal and no garda would show for the hearing. This is exactly what happened and the appeal was allowed (see The Phoenix 4/5/12).

Farrell became a key witness for the media at the mainly failed libel cases Ian Bailey took against the media and was written of with respect as a crucial witness for the media. When she could no longer bear the constant pressure to perjure herself and the personal pressures involved in the matter, she withdrew her statements incriminating Bailey. Suddenly, she became a figure of disrepute for many media as well as gardaí.

However, the drama and scandal of such behaviour is perhaps less significant than what the DPP said about gardaí feeding the media with lurid stories to engender fear of Bailey in the local community and what Farrell told The Phoenix back in 2012. According to Farrell, gardaí told her to make claims that Bailey and even his partner, Jules Thomas, had threatened her regularly, with Bailey making cut-throat gestures to her on the street of Schull.

Of particular significance is what Farrell said in her retraction statement. She said one officer told her, when insisting she sign statements alleging threats from Bailey, that “we have to make Ian Bailey look dangerous and intimidating”. Farrell made this statement in 2005, while the DPP document making strikingly similar allegations about media manipulation was made in 2001 – but never made public until 2011.

The above is but a brief summary of the 27-year-long scandal that is the ‘investigation’ into Ian Bailey as a murder suspect. The Phoenix will publish a more comprehensive outline of the Garda-media collusion in this case in our next edition.

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